A Buddha bowl recipe made with Crispy Tofu tossed in a sweet garlicky lemongrass honey soy sauce served with a variety of fresh produce over rice.
I love Buddha bowls, not just because they are gorgeous and fun to make but mostly because it has so many different flavours and ingredients going into it, that its always full of different and delicious flavours. It's so easy to be creative with Buddha bowls, because you can basically mix and match your favourite fresh and local produce or swap out different sauces and it tastes different every time.
The cool thing about Buddha bowls is it can have many components, but you can make it as complicated (with lots of layers of flavors and ingredients) or as simple as you like. For this Buddha bowl, I had only 3 requirements - it had to have a wide range of flavours, different types of textures (crispy tofu and seaweed salad!) and uses fresh and colourful produce.
INGREDIENTS FOR BUDDHA BOWL
- Tofu - For this Buddha bowl recipe, use firm tofu.
- Potato Starch - Lightly coating each tofu piece before pan frying it, gives you an extra crispy layer!
GARLIC LEMONGRASS HONEY SOY SAUCE
- Lemongrass - Use fresh lemongrass for this if possible. You can also use the frozen pre-ground lemongrass for this as well. Make sure you chop this finely since lemongrass is very woody and can get stuck between your teeth if it is large and chunky.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic for this, finely chopped.
- Soy Sauce - I like to use low sodium soy sauce for this.
- Honey - I like to use honey over sugar for the sauce because it gives the sauce a thicker and syrupy consistency.
- Wakame Seaweed Salad - This is a completely optional ingredient but has a wonderful sweetness and crunch to it.
- Braised Shiitake Mushrooms - I use dried shiitake mushrooms for this and soaked them for 1-2 hours in water to reconstitute it. Then I braise it in a sweet soy for 10 minutes and thinly slice it.
- Fresh Local Produce - Pick and choose your favourite local fresh produces! Some common ones I like to use are cucumbers, cabbage, baby tomatoes and occasionally radishes
- Pickled Onions/Radishes/Carrots - I usually like one component of the Buddha bowl to be a light pickled vegetable. For something quick, squeeze fresh lime juice over sliced red onions and soak them for an hour. I also have a quick and easy pickled daikon recipe as well which you can easily add carrots to.
- Mango - I like to occasionally use fresh mango as well to give it a sweet element. For a sweeter and softer mango, use Ataulfo mangoes. If you prefer a firmer mango with a bit more tang, then use the large firm red/green mangoes.
- Jazz up your Buddha bowls with additional garnishes such as green onions, roasted seaweed and/or toasted sesame seeds or our homemade furikake recipe!
POKE BOWL vs. BUDDHA BOWL
Buddha bowls are often plant-based, where the protein also comes from tofu, beans or tempeh; whereas a poke bowl typically uses bright raw fish as their protein source such as salmon or ahi-tuna. Regardless if you are making a poke bowl or a Buddha bowl, you can easily switch out your grains (rice, bulgur, quinoa) and fresh local produce for a bit of variety.
HOW TO GET EXTRA CRISPY TOFU
Getting extra crispy tofu is quite easy and can be done in 2 steps.
- Step 1: Remove as much water from the firm tofu as you can. To do this, I like to place my tofu on a plate with a high lip (to catch the water), and then place a cutting board on top of it. Then to weigh it down, I use a heavy bowl or a heavy object. Gravity will do all the work for you. After an hour, you will notice the tofu sitting in a pool of water, you can discard the water and use the tofu. If you want to remove even more water, continue the method for another hour.
- Step 2: Lightly coat and rub potato starch on the tofu before you pan fry it. You don't need much, just enough to lightly coat it. You need to also make sure there is enough oil in the pan to lightly pan fry the tofu as well. I found that when there is not enough oil in the pan, the direct contact from the frying pans heat will burn the tofu. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan as well, while the tofu is forming the crispy crust, the potato starch can get sticky and 'glue' the tofu together if there isn't enough space.
Looking For Salad Recipes Like this? Try These!
- Japanese Kani Salad (Japanese Crab Salad)
- Curtido (Salvadoran Pickled Cabbage Slaw)
- Lao Crispy Rice Salad (Nam Khao)
- Watermelon Feta Salad
- Yum Woon Sen (Thai Glass Noodle Salad)
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Crispy Garlic Tofu Buddha Bowl
- For this buddha bowl recipe, use firm tofu. 1 hour (or a day) before you plan to use it, remove it from the packaging and place it on a large plate with a lip on it. Put a small cutting board with a heavy bowl on top of the cutting board or a heavy plate on top of it. Gravity will do it's magic and the excess water in the tofu will be pushed out from the weight on top. Drain the water from the plate a few times.
- Use fresh lemongrass for this if possible. You can also use the frozen pre-ground lemongrass for this as well. Make sure you chop this really finely since lemongrass is very woody and can get stuck between your teeth if they are large and chunky.
- 1 ½ cup of cooked rice per bowl (or quinoa, brown rice)
Crispy Tofu (Makes 4 Servings)
- 454 g firm tofu
- potato starch (enough to lightly rub onto each tofu piece before pan-frying)
Honey Garlic Lemongrass Soy Sauce
Braised Shiitake Mushrooms (Optional)
Pickled Red Onions (Optional)
- ½ small red onion (sliced)
- 1 lime
Toppings (Mix & Match)
- ½ cup red cabbage (thinly sliced, per bowl)
- ¼ cup wakame seaweed salad (per bowl)
- 1-2 radishes (thinly sliced, per bowl)
- ¼ cup cherry tomatoes (cut in halves, per bowl)
- ¼ cup cucumbers (sliced or chopped, per bowl)
- ¼ cup mango (sliced or chopped, per bowl)
- ½ avocado (sliced or chopped, per bowl)
Garnishes (Mix & Match)
- black sesame seeds
- crispy onions
- green onions (finely chopped)
- Remove the tofu from the packaging and place in on a plate with a lip on it (so it can catch the excess water).
- Place a cutting board on top of the tofu and place something heavy like a bowl on top of the cutting board for an hour. Gravity will do its magic and press out any excess water from the tofu. Discard the water.
- Make rice (or quinoa, brown rice) ahead of time and set aside
- (Optional, if you are making pickled red onions) Finely slice a red onion and place it into a bowl. Cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl with the onions and let it soak for an hour. Mix it around occasionally so that lime juice is distributed to all the onion slices.
- (Optional, if you are braising shiitake mushrooms) Rinse the dried shiitake mushrooms and place it in a bowl with room temperature water and let it soak for 1 hour.
Making the Sauce
- Peel and finely chop the garlic and set aside
- Remove the first layer of the lemongrass and wash the sand off the lemongrass.
- Cut 2 inches from the bottom and smash the lemongrass with a rolling pin or the back of the knife to release the oils.
- Finely chop the lemongrass by hand or use a food process to grind it. It is important that it is very finely chopped, since lemongrass is very woody and it's not fun getting it stuck in your teeth.
- In a small pot, add a bit of oil and set the heat to medium-low heat.
- Add in the garlic and lemongrass and toast it until it is golden brown (approx. 1-2 minutes)
- Once the garlic and lemongrass has been toasted, add in the soy and honey and let it simmer for 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool, it will turn syrupy once it has cooled.
- Do a taste test. If it is too salty, mix 1-2 tablespoons of honey into it and adjust it to the right amount of sweetness for you.
Braising Shiitake Mushrooms (Optional)
- Once the shiitake mushrooms have absorbed the water, it should be soft and pliable.
- Squeeze the water out of the mushrooms and place the water in a small pot.
- Add in additional water, soy and sugar and set the pot over the stove on medium-low heat.
- Add the shiitake mushrooms back in and braise it for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have absorbed most of the liquid
- Set the braised mushrooms aside to cool.
- Once it has cooled, cut and remove the stem off (it is usually chewy) and finely slice it.
Preparing the Toppings
- Depending on what fresh produce you are using, slice or dice the ingredients you are using and set it aside.
Making the Crispy Tofu
- Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes or triangles.
- Sprinkle potato starch over each piece and gently rub each flat surface with it, until each piece is finely coated with the potato starch.
- Add oil to a frying pan and set the heat to low heat. Make sure there is enough oil to coat the bottom of the frying pan.
- When the oil is hot, add the tofu in - being careful to keep them apart and not overcrowd it so they don't stick together.
- Pan fry each surface of the tofu until it is golden brown and crispy. Remove it and set it aside once it is done.
Putting It Together
- In a large bowl, place 1 ½ cups of cooked rice at the bottom of the bowl.
- Toss a few pieces of tofu with 1 ½ teaspoon of garlic lemongrass soy to lightly coat it.
- Arrange all the fresh produce, seaweed, pickled onions (optional), shiitake mushroom (optional) and crispy tofu over the rice.
- Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons of garlic lemongrass soy over everything and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds and enjoy!
- Best eaten with everything mixed together so the flavors all mingle together! Do a taste test, if you like your food a bit saucier, add a bit more sauce to your preference!
*Nutritional information is calculated using online tools and is an estimate*
What a blast of WOW's beautiful, colorful, and healthy fruits, veggie salads. I am going to make of the same pattern to show off for my potluck gathering in this coming weekend. Thank you, this recipe came up in a perfect time.. 🙂